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In addition to pre-school expansion exploration approval, a report located elsewhere in this edition, Unified School District 362 board of education members heard a report on pre-Christmas testing at their Jan. 9 monthly meeting.

Beth Sandness, district student services director, reported on results from FastBridge testing, which she defined as a “universal screener.” Complete data from the tests can be found under the ‘aReading’ and ‘aMath’ tabs under Item 6.3 of the Jan. 9 board agenda at

Sandness said that the tests reflected student growth as the same as the fall FastBridge battery, but Brad Heide, board member, voiced concern about areas showing 10 percent decreases. 

Sandness said those classes would be “drilled down into” and said causes might include a higher special education population or high “move-ins and move-outs.”

Asked by Richard Gravelle, board member, of the number of tests given annually, Sandness said FastBridge is administered three, and in some cases, four times yearly, along with spring state assessments and some in-class indicators.

Observed Gravelle, “Sometimes kids don’t do well because they’re being tested an excessive number of times.”

Heide asked for help in clarifying the results, noting the percentages above and below benchmarks. Sandness said the dark-red color-coding at the bottom of each vertical graph indicates highest risk. She said further observations will be studied after FastBridge testing near the end of the third quarter and/or the end of the school year.

In answer to Wade Teagarden, board president, Sandness said FastBridge benchmarks increase an average of three to five points each testing period.

Sandness also addressed a question from Russell Pope, board member, concerning anticipated high school graduation changes occurring probably with the Class of 2028 (this year’s seventh graders).

“The Kansas State Board of Education is still trying to figure out which class it would apply to,” she said.

Sandness outlined changes that will reduce English/language arts (ELA) requirements by a half-credit from the four now, with the other half-credit in speech, drama or communications. She said the current one-credit combined health/physical education credit will be broken into two separate semesters. 

A semester of financial literacy will be required, but Sandness said Prairie View already requires that course for a full year. Also under the new requirements will be a course in higher-level ELA, mathematics, or career technical education, as well as two post-secondary “assets” that could be college hours already earned, technical certification, or outside activities such as 4-H or Scouts.

A study of the current senior class shows that “only five now that wouldn’t have met those qualifications,” Sandness said.

Sandness also showed results from the first-semester Buffalo Attendance Matters (BAM) initiative where 69 percent of district students were at 90 percent or above attendance as compared to 65 percent at the same time last year. She said 96 letters were sent to express first-semester attendance concerns as compared to 116 this time last year.

“I think BAM is working, primarily at the elementary level,” Sandness said of the incentive. “We have really good business partners.” 

Under recognition, Rex Bollinger, Ed.D., district superintendent, read a statement praising members for School Board Appreciation Month. He noted Teagarden in his 14th year, Heide in his 12th, Rita Boydston in her 10th, Pope in his fifth, Brad Stainbrook and Brian Uphoff in their fourth, and Gravelle in his first.

In other business before the board;

- After accepting nominations by acclamation, unanimous votes re-elected Teagarden as president and Boydston as vice president for 2023.

- During consent agenda financial statements, Bollinger answered a Heide concern about a computer-generated check to Jason Bloodgood, trapshooting team coach, of $7,200 for full-year ammunition reimbursement. “He has to pay?” asked Heide, with Bollinger saying that Bloodgood “gets the deal, and we reimburse because he likes it that way.”

- Tamala Snyder, high school mathematics teacher, made a Building Thinking Classrooms presentation, an approach she heard at a Kansas Association of Teachers of Mathematics conference last year that incorporates cooperative problem solving skills for three days, Thursday checks for understanding, and Friday quizzes. Saying it is “working well with all three” high school math teachers (Casey Konda and Jenny Trumbly included), Snyder said she would “love for it to spread K-12.” Bollinger said an August in-service has been arranged.


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